A conversation with Gagosian director Antwaun Sargent at Frieze London 2021 unpacking his exhibition exploring the dimensions of space within the context of the African diaspora.
I CALL HIM MR. VALENTINO
Words by Mariacarla Boscono
This article originally appeared in A Magazine N°20 Curated By Pierpaolo Piccioli, December 2019.
I call him Mr. Valentino – I’ve always called him that. For me, he’s one of the biggest couture designers. He’s the real deal.
We’ve known each other for really long, since I was 14 and started doing his fittings in Rome. I remember he once said to me, ‘Oh, Mariacarla. You look like a hanger.’ I was like, ‘Excuse me, Monsieur!’ And he was like, ‘In a good way of course. Whatever I put on you, it looks fabulous!’
I had never dreamt to do the catwalks in Paris, but I became quite successful quite quick. Back then, the show seasons were much more difficult – I think I did 77 shows one season. Of course, Paris was my biggest town to work in. So, when I’d arrive on set, I was always super late.
Mr. Valentino always wanted the full make-up and hair when he fitted the girls, and I always complained about it because I didn’t have time! It was a little bit like: ‘Oh, she’s coming…’, but always in a funny way. Mr. Valentino adored me so much that he would put up with my big personality; even at that young age, I was loud and never shut my mouth. So, I’d arrive and straight away go to kiss him. He’d show me the clothes, which were absolutely a dream. We’d just laugh and put on music.
At the time, he had six carlini, pugs, the breed of dog he is obsessed with. As soon as I arrived at the atelier at Place Vendôme – and because I was so loud – I had this storm of carlini always walking around me. Before leaving the atelier, I had to take off the make-up as it was top secret before the show. I thought I would have some fun before I left, so I locked his dogs in the bathroom. Mr. Valentino was going crazy for 40 minutes desperately searching for them. And I was laughing my pants off next door as I was taking off my make-up. I was cheeky – the normal Mariacarla.
Everything was so lovely. He used the same great old seamstresses from the Roman atelier and would bring them all to Paris for the shows – it’s the same now with Piccioli. It’s a big family, a glamorous couture major family.
Entitled Rhapsody In The Street, A#22 responds to the tradition of Black poetry, literature and portrait photography of the 20th century, featuring a curation of archival portfolios and other historical ephemera, as well as newly commissioned essays, poems, paintings and portraits.
An exclusive portfolio of behind-the-scenes images from the Comme des Garçons Spring Summer 2022 collections in Tokyo, Japan, photographed by Noam Levinger.